By Chris Rogers
After defeating (3) Indiana in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament Wednesday, the (6) Terrapins will move on to face (7) Michigan State Thursday at 6 p.m. EST.
The Terps (29-25, 13-11 Big Ten, 58 RPI) took down the Hoosiers, 5-3, behind a career-high 16 strikeouts from Mike Shawaryn and three-hit efforts from Nick Dunn and Marty Costes. Meanwhile, the Spartans (35-18, 13-11 Big Ten, 83 RPI) upset (2) Nebraska to advance to the winner’s bracket.
The Terps and Spartans are familiar foes, as they met just last weekend in East Lansing, Mich., when Maryland took two of three to secure the No. 6 seed in the tournament. The Terps won Thursday and Saturday, but lost in extra innings on Friday on a 13th inning walk-off sacrifice fly by the Spartans. As for much of the season, starting pitching was a major factor for the Terps in the weekend series, as Mike Shawaryn tossed a complete game, and Brian Shaffer and Taylor Bloom each had strong outings. The Maryland bats came alive too, scoring six runs in each of their wins, against a staff that led the Big Ten with a 2.71 ERA this season.
Despite losing five of their last seven, Michigan State is a formidable team. First baseman Jordan Zimmerman led the Big Ten in batting average (.386) and ranked fourth in hits (78) and runs scored (46). Reliever Dakota Mekkes, who threw six shutout innings in the 13-inning contest Saturday, led the Big Ten with a 1.35 ERA, nearly a full run below any other qualifier.
The winner of Thursday’s game will not play again until Saturday, while the loser will play the winner of the Indiana-Nebraska matchup on Friday.
Starting Pitching Matchup
6 p.m. EST
So. RHP Ethan Landon (7-3, 2.77 ERA) vs. So. RHP Taylor Bloom (6-4, 2.46 ERA)
Ethan Landon has found success since transferring from Kansas State, sporting a 2.77 ERA in 14 starts this season. While holding opponents to a modest .251 average, he has allowed just ten extra base hits (9 doubles, 1 home run) in 78 innings. He struggled last weekend against the Terps, however, allowing four runs over five frames as he suffered his third loss of the season. Taylor Bloom has dazzled for the Terps in his sophomore season, leading the team with a 2.46 ERA, while most impressively walking just nine batters in 95 innings of work. Saturday, he allowed three runs (two earned) in 6.2 innings, but did not factor into the decision.